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Swiss Army: B&T’s GHM9 Gen2

B&T’s Highly Configurable GHM9 GEN2

The second coming of B&T’s GHM9 is more than a firearm. Its Gen2 rebirth comes with a family of accessories that make it the center of a PDW ecosystem. While it may share some features with its U.S. Army-adopted big brother, the APC9, the GHM9 was conceived as a more affordable option aimed squarely at the U.S. market.

We’re aware that affordable is a subjective term, but we’re also aware that Mercedes-Benz and BMW have entry-level models we still can’t afford. The top line here, though, is that the GHM9 gives a lot of what the APC9 offers for a price that’s about 30 percent less. And, in some areas, such as modularity, the GHM9 actually outshines its older sibling.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

The Swiss gunmaker offers a range of firearms, running from precision rifles to its unique USW pistol. B&T’s first products were suppressors made in 1991. But when the company graduated into full-on firearm development with its release of the MP9 in 2004, the heart of the company, we think, shifted to its PDWs and submachine guns. For example, B&T’s MP9 was an update of the Steyr TMP, and its P26 was an improved version of that hot garbage classic, the Intratec TEC-9. So, B&T’s interest in developing its own subgun platform wasn’t surprising.

OF ARMY CONTRACTS AND RODENTS

According to B&T USA’s CEO Tim Nickler, aside from making guns, cans, and OEMing parts other European defense manufacturers, B&T serviced Heckler & Koch MP5s under contract with various Swiss police units. It was during this time, says Nickler, that company founder Karl Brügger fully realized how laborious and expensive it was to maintain the MP5 and its complex, roller-delayed action. This led B&T to ask why a better, simpler gun hadn’t been manufactured in 50 years. The APC9 was B&T’s answer to that question.

Before the validation of B&T’s APC design came in the form of a $2.5-million U.S. Army contract for the $2,500 PDW in 2018, the company recognized it had an opportunity to expand its line and compete with down-market competitors by releasing a less expensive PDW, with a few of the APC’s key features.
Nickler asked Brügger for a gun to compete with CZ and Sig Sauer’s offerings in the U.S. “He said he’d have it done in 30 days,” recalls Nickler, “‘and you’re going to name it,’ he told me.”

“I felt at the time CZ was our biggest competitor,” Nickler continues, “so what eats scorpions? I looked it up, and lo and behold, there’s Marty Stouffer from Wild America talking about this grasshopper mouse from the Southwest.”

Brügger liked the idea despite Nickler offering it mostly as a joke. The name stuck; the APC9’s little brother was born, and it was christened GHM9, short for grasshopper mouse 9mm.

The GHM line diverges from the APC in its semi-auto only operation, its array of DIY-able barrel, handguard, and stock/brace configurations, its fixed-grip lower receiver, its use of a threaded trunnion instead of the APC’s barrel nut assembly … and of course, its lower price.

GENERATIONS

B&T’s first swing at the GHM9 was a solid hit, but it had room to improve. A couple internal upgrades were in order, as was one big, game-changing boob job that takes the gun to the next level.

First was addressing the Gen1’s failure to feed hollowpoints. It ran FMJs like a runaway RBMK reactor, but B&T initially didn’t set the gun up to run hollowpoints, because it’s a European company and European governments don’t trust their subjects with scary JHP ammo. That mistake is addressed with new feed ramp geometry that’s included in all the Gen2 guns and retrofitted to Gen1 guns by B&T USA upon request.

The new feed ramp improves the GHM9’s appetite for JHPs greatly, but it seems there’s still some rounds it refuses to swallow. Of the four types of hollowpoints we grabbed off the shelf for this review, the GHM9 refused to feed Sig’s V-Crown ammo. Aside from struggling to swallow it, the V-Crown produced unusually crappy groups four times larger than we’d come to expect from that round. We attribute the V-Crown’s accuracy degradation to tip deformation resulting from the bullet slamming into the top of the chamber before barely getting funneled into firing position. For that reason, we dropped the V-Crown from our accuracy test.


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